Fimstar Leonardo DiCaprio has added his voice to a movement challenging construction of small hydropower plants in the Balkans.
The campaign, launched by WWF, calls for suspension of state subsidies citing inherent economic / value imbalance and environmental imapcts. In 2018, across the Balkans, small hydro projects were awarded about 70 Percent of state subsidies but produced only about 3.5 Percent of electricity.
Installations have been observed to dry out rivers, harming fish species and surrounding wetlands and floodplains and impacting the fertility of surrounding soils.
WWF estimates that further development of the rivers in the proposed manner could endanger about 10 Percent of European freshwater fish with extinction.
In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, over 450 small hydropower projects are currently under construction or are in the planning stages. In response to local protests, prime minister Fadil Novalic has issued a public statement: “As a great lover of nature, I will always support conservation projects. I think clean rivers are more important to us than electricity. We are probably the only country in the region that is energy independent, we get enough energy from other sources. We must keep our rivers clean and pass them on to future generations."
DiCaprio, an environmental activist, has posted the prime minister’s support for the protesters on his Instagram account and further comments that the “Bosnia and Herzegovina rivers are facing imminent destruction…The federation needs to take swift action now - like we’ve done in the United States with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act - to permanently protect the most biodiverse rivers remaining in Europe, a lifeline for local communities and many endangered species that the world otherwise risks losing.”